Favorites of 2010

December 29, 2010

1. Hot pink lips: Bold, effortless, chic. This was the lip look I rocked the most this year, with a natural eye, of course. Faves of the year included Sephora Rouge Cream Lipstick in Mr. Lover, Benefit Posie Tint Stain (3-5 layers for intensity) layered with Smashbox O-Gloss Original (always turns my lips bright hot pink), and MAC Lipstick in Girl About Town.

2. Lashes: It’s rare for me to wear faux lashes even though I love them so (my eyes freak out if I wear them too often) and when I have a full fringe, I always feel super glam. My faves are still Ardell because the quality surpasses the price (around $4). The #120 demi are my absolute faves and I also like #113 and #122. My lash glue of choice is always Duo waterproof clear lash glue unless…I can get my hands on the Makeup Forever lash glue that comes with their lashes. I hoard this whenever I buy Makeup Forever lashes because it is absolutely the best I’ve tried.

3. The love of my life (well, purse-wise at least) is my Lux De Ville Lucky Me bag in black and leopard. I love it because it’s roomy and super cute. It isn’t, however, great for rainy weather, so I’m currently using their Starlite Kisslock bag in red sparkle, which doesn’t hold as much but makes me happy because it reminds me of Dorothy’s ruby slippers, just in purse form instead of shoes.

4. Headbands! Love! It takes  a drab hairstyle to fab on mornings when I’d rather sleep than make an effort with my hair. I just brush, slick into a pony, pop on a headband and I look like I tried.

5. Josie Maran GOGO instant volume mascara: I always admit that mascara is not my thing, so when I do end up loving one, it’s the real deal. The brush is almost a triangular shape and it gives my lash a flirty flutter without clumps. Thanks, Josie. P.S. I also kind of love everything from this line, so maybe I’m biased? It really is a super fab line that I highly recommend.

6. Zirh Shave Gel: See a few posts back. Amazing!

7 & 8: Perricone Super: I’m sooo loving the Lush Lips and Hyper Hydrator, both with coconut water. Coconut water is great for the skin (I would like to say that I drink it regularly, but I only drink it a few times a month) and the smell is light. The lip treatment is ultra hydrating, silky, and is indeed very lush. The moisturizer is light and helps keep my oily skin in check. The line is also a bit more wallet friendly than Perricone’s core line, which I also love and can’t always afford.

9. Perricone Advanced Firming Eye Activator: Anti-aging! Brightening! Tightening! I love this eye cream bunches and always buy it when it’s within my budget. I’ve been a devotee of this product since 2006.

10 And as always….Bliss Best of Skintentions moisturizer is still tops in my skincare regime. I love the way it makes my skin look and feel. If I need an instant pick-me-up, this does it. I also love the built-in SPF (with the Japanese skincare rating of PA++).

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I don’t think beauty products should be allowed to have the following in their names: miracle, wonder, instant, lineless, wrinkle-free, laser/lift/tightening/facelift/eyelift (unless we’re talking about the real surgical procedures), and flawless, to name a few. They are loaded words that appeal to emotions and give the user false hope that the products will be miraculous. The FDA here in the US does not regulate beauty products and many promises are delivered to consumers that the hottest skin care item was “Clinically tested and 100% of testers found it to be effective”, when perhaps there were only 80 people in the clinical trial. And the clinical trial was done by the company producing the product in a controlled environment. i.e. a “side effect” of product x could be darkening of hair, and all of the testers are already brunette, so therefore 100% of all testers did not experience that side effect.

I am a big believer in several OTC* skin care lines. I’ve seen my skin go from acne-prone to gorgeous, glowing, and clear with products I’ve purchased at Nordstrom and Sephora, when things the Derm tried didn’t work. It’s important to know that OTC and even prescription treatments may not completely eliminate a skin concern. I’m a big believer in trying OTC products first, then if needed, consult a derm. I’m also big on research. Most websites provide a list of ingredients. If you don’t know what something is, look it up. Know what you are putting on your skin, be aware of any interactions or precautions to take (if you are using a 10% glycolic wash, plus a 5% salicylic treatment, you must wear SPF to prevent sunburn and damage, plus you must know if it’s okay to use other products containing these ingredients and frequency of use).

I see soo many people who end up not liking a product because they didn’t give it enough time to work, or people who are mixing ingredients that should not be used all together. Please do not use an AHA/BHA cleanser every day, a glycolic toner, a vitamin c serum, a salicylic treatment, retinol every night, chemical peels twice a month, plus exfoliate with a scrub twice a week…and not wear SPF. Oh, and then get a brow wax (and not disclose the products you’re using to your esthetician) and then wonder why your skin is so much more sensitive than it was before. That’s just ridiculous overload and entirely too many active ingredients at one time. Likewise, I’ve seen those who don’t do anything to their skin and wonder why they have skin issues. I’ve even ran into women (and girls) who don’t wash their face and they wear makeup everyday! Oy.

Following directions: To see optimal results from any skin care product or treatment, one simply must, must, must use as directed. A pigmentation brightening treatment is not going to work in one week. Same with any type of anti-aging treatment or acne treatment. A single hair removal laser treatment at the derm is not going to treat a large area (there must be a series of treatments used). It must be used consistently and long enough to see results (this does not mean skipping treatments or using when you feel like it). Dermatologists, esthetician’s, and beauty industry sales associates are not telling you to be consistent just to hear themselves talk. It’s the truth, use as directed.

*OTC = over the counter. Any product containing an active ingredient (benzol peroxide, salicylic, glycolic acid, AHA/BHA,  titanium dioxide, etc) that’s readily available without a prescription at department or specialty stores and even drug stores.

Acupuncture for Anti-Aging?

August 12, 2010

 

I ❤ Diane Lane. I have liked most of her movies and I think she is adorable. I’m also kind of jealous that at 45, she has a glow that I don’t have at 28. She can, however, afford beauty treatments that I can’t. I usually DIY it, whereas she can shell out for treatments like acupuncture facials. According to the RealSelf blog, she gets regular acupuncture facials (also known as acupuncture “facelifts”) to help soften the look of fine lines and wrinkles. This treatment may also help under eye bags, firm facial contours, and aid in relief from other health issues, such as insomnia. Most acupuncture facials include the use of herbs, creams, and occasionally even light therapy for a more luxurious treatment.

Personally, I’ve considered acupuncture for my migraines but can not handle needles, no matter how small. Perhaps someday if I conquer my fear of needles, I will try it out. If it doesn’t help with my migraines maybe I will see beauty benefits?

 

I purchased the Sephora Sun Safety kit  this year, just as I always do every year, to see if I can find my new holy grail of sun protection. The 2010 kit included Kate Somerville SPF 55 Sunscreen Serum, my new love. It’s lightweight, absorbs quickly, is great for my oily skin because it’s oil free and non greasy, and does not have a scent. I am so so so so hooked on this product that I had to go buy the full size. I had to order online, though, because my local Sephora only carries three Kate Somerville products. 

 The other suncreeens in the Sephora kit weren’t really anything amazing, though I did like the Jack Black Lip Balm in Lemon and Chamomile. I’ve been using the balm in Mint for several years and might switch to the Lemon version because the scent is uplifting. The kit also includes Bliss Best of Skintentions Moisturizer with SPF, which I have also been using since it launched. Another honorable mention goes to Murad Essential-C Eye Cream SPF 15, for its light weight formula that works well under makeup.

Bandeau swim top pictured above is from Vitamin A.

 I keep a small basket of items I use regularly in my nightstand. I also sometimes stash things in my basket that I know I should totally use but don’t as a reminder to actually use them.

1. The neighbor that lives behind me is notorious for having parties that last into the wee A.M. hours. And they don’t invite me! To be fair, we aren’t acquainted. Since I’m not in attendance at these parties and I need my beauty sleep, I always stock plenty of ear plugs in my nightstand. I also always travel with ear plugs. I usually get mine from Target and buy whatever’s the cheapest. You can even find them in fun colors. My current selection is a bag of grey ones that were around $5 for 20.

2. I love girly, fruity fragrances. When it comes to home scents, I prefer more masculine scents. My three favorite notes are amber, sandalwood, and vanilla. I’m currently down to my last few sprays of Diptyque John Galliano room spray. It’s described as having a burning wood note but smells more cuddly than like camping. $60 for 150ml at beautyhabit.com. My next spray is a generic spritzer from Target simply called Amber Vanilla.

3. I love lip balm! My daytime favorite is Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm with SPF 15 in natural mint. My bedtime fave is Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment. It has a calming, subtle lemon scent and smooth texture that sinks into my lips and doesn’t settle into my pillow slip. $22.50 at fresh.com.

4. I love the light fragrance that candles give off while unlit. Among my favorite scents (yet again) are sandalwood, vanilla, amber, and other woody fragrances. My selection du jour includes K. Hall Designs Sandalwood vegetable wax candle. I’ve also used their driftwood candle and it was just as fab. $25 at khalldesigns.com.

5. & 6. I constantly moisturize my hands. The only hand lotion I will use (unless I’m really desperate) is Caudalie Hand and Nail Cream. The ultra nourishing formula has a suble, uplifting scent and doesn’t leave your hands feeling greasy. $19 at Sephora or Caudalie.com. I spend so much time hydrating my hands that I often forget about my feet, so I keep Bliss Foot Patrol cream in my nightstand. It’s loaded with exfoliating alpha-hydroxy acids that help slough off dead skin while I sleep. $18 at Blissworld.com.

7. If I can swing it, I will sleep as late as I possibly can. On days where I can sleep in until the sun has risen, I need a sleep mask to block the flood of sunlight my bedroom gets in the morning. I prefer satin versions because they are soft and don’t leave creases on my face in the morning. This version is $8 at nicolejane.com. 

8. I sleep with my hair up because it drives me insane having my long hair down. I sleep kind of crazy and waking up because my hair is in my face is annoying. I always keep a stash of Goody elastics close at hand. I prefer the ouchless version because they are gentle on my hair.

Day 1: Peel day. I was ready for a run-of-the-mill facial when my esthetician friend says, “How would you feel about doing a light chemical peel?” Um, yes please! I felt a slight tingling during and after, which wasn’t really a big deal. My skin felt soft, was a little pink, and was super shiny (it’s always shiny, anyway). When I got home I noticed some of my congested pores were already starting decongest themselves, especially around and on my nose.

Day 2: My skin is clear, smooth, and glowy. When I did a shortened version of PM skin care routine, I noticed a little peeling/flaking action but it wasn’t too bad. I’ve been instructed to stay away from my beloved AHA’s, BHA’s, any other exfoliant, and any harsh anti-aging/anti-acne treatments. I cleansed, spritzed on a hydrating mist, and applied a hydrating PM moisturizer. I did cheat and spot treat a blemish that found its way to the surface of my skin.

Day 3: Note to self: Do not use Shiseido Sunscreen after a peel. It was way too thick and showed every little area of peeling skin. Other than that, my skin felt and looked good. I started to see some congestion coming up and my skin will most likely be showing signs of an acne flare up very soon.

Day 4: More peeling. It’s still not bad or noticable, mostly exfoliates off when I cleanse with my Clarisonic Brush (only 1x a day instead of the usual 2x). I have not been wearing any makeup. More congestion from my pores is starting to surface.

Day 5: First day wearing makeup. My skin looked great without makeup today but it was back to work and that meant makeup time. A tiny blemish decided to make an appearance but it’s not a big deal and not noticeable.

Day 6: Again, my skin looks great. Glowy, gorgeous, mostly clear except for the visitor that popped up yesterday.

Day 7: Blemish gone. Skin looks radiant. I want another peel!

The month after: My skin still looks beautiful, though a bit of hormonal acne has surfaced near my jaw, which is to be expected, thanks to Auntie Flo. I still want another pro peel and under the advice of a trusted skin care guru, I am now using the OTC  Ole Henriksen Micro/Mini Peel. I have received the Ok to use it and have tried it twice. LOVE! Easy to use and gentle, except that I’m not fond of the first step, which is a seemingly abrasive scrub.

I might try microdermabrasion next. We’ll see.

By the way, I think you all should know that I love 24 and will be very sad when it’s over.

 I love anti-aging products because I hope to do just that: anti-age and keep the skin I have now for as long as possible. Here’s to hoping that having a great skin care routine in my 20’s pays off when I’m 60. There are so many products on the market that promise to lift, banish fine lines and wrinkles, reduce pore size, firm, restore elasticity; there are even creams that promise to lift your bust and booty. Famed plastic surgeon Robert Rey from Dr. 90210 even has his own line of skin and body care.   

So do these “miracle” elixirs really work? Some can help a bit and can be great alternatives to plastic surgery. While you won’t see the same results as you would from surgical procedures, they can help soften the appearance of aging, though the only thing that will give you the effects of a facelift is an actual facelift.

When it comes to the various brands available, there isn’t one that’s “best” because each and every line has its own unique variables and you should take into account your skin type, your needs, any allergies to specific ingredients, your budget, and the amount of time you have in your daily routine. Skin care products, whether for acne, aging, or general upkeep require time and consistency; you need to use products as directed to see optimal results. 

Some scientifically proven active ingredients to look for when choosing anti-aging skin care include: 

  • Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA): Exfoliates the skin’s surface and can improve texture. Common types to look for include lactic, glycolic, lactic, malic, citric, and  tartaric. 
  • Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA): Exfoliates and, unlike AHA’s, can penetrate pores due to their oil solubility, giving you deeper benefits. BHA’s can help with rough skin texture, wrinkles, acne and minor sun damage. Salicylic acid is BHA. Also look for willow bark as it’s a naturally derived form of Salicylic.
  • Coenzyme Q10: Helps to reduce free radical damage.
  • Retinol (vitamin A): Smoothes wrinkles, skin texture, and helps to create healthier skin cells. Presceription strength retinol products include Retin-A and Renova. OTC formulations are available in both high-end brands and drugstore brands.
  • Neuropeptides: Aids in anti-inflammation relief and helps to boost collagen and elastin.
  • Vitamin C/L-ascorbic acid: antioxidant properties, helps reduce  discoloration.
  • Amino Acid: Helps with plumping lines, discoloration.
  • There are several more out there so I recommend if you’re curious, do some homework based on ingredient, your budget, and skin type.

IMPORTANT info about active ingredient listed above: 

Please note that when using the above products, you MUST religiously use a broad spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen of at least 15 or higher (my old derm insisted that everyone must use at least a 30). This is because these active ingredients can make your skin more susceptible to sun damage. I know you’re probably saying, “But I’m never in the sun and I don’t burn so I don’t need it!” Oh yes you do, indeed. While you can see what’s happening on the surface of your skin, the deeper layers can hide what you don’t see and often times these active ingredients can magnify the sun’s effects up to 50%. What does this mean? Basically that you’re wasting money on product because the “good” you are doing is being undone and can surface in more wrinkles, age spots, sun spots, and other surface imperfections later on. UV rays are still present on cloudy and rainy days and can still effect the skin, so use your SPF every day.

Lush Figs and Leaves Soap

November 18, 2009

 Mmmmmm. I love Lush’s Figs and Leaves Soap because it smells like a little peace of heaven. The scent is light, slightly clean and also a little foody. It also feels divine and exfoliates without being messy or leaving behind a film. Figs and Leaves exfoliates with fig seeds and is scented with essentials oild of ylang ylang, orange blossom absolute, and added fragrance.I love this because it’s gentle, smells divine, feels wonderful on my skin, and doesn’t leave my skin feeling dry. The only downside, for me, are the leaves on the top of the soap. Sure, it’s pretty decoration, but it gets mushy with use and can clog the drain. I just simply peel the leaves off after my first use. I discovered this soap thanks to a little sample that a nice sales lady added into my bag and I’ve been hooked ever since. I love it during fall and winter the most and will sometimes indulge in a bar during other months as well.This soap ranges in price in store depending on the size you get and the online quote for a 3.5 oz bar is $7.60. You can also have the lovely sales people at the store cut your very own custom bar as well.

Lush is best known for its natural approach to skin, body, and hair care. Sometimes synthetic materials (man-made) are used and they strive to use skin and eco-friendly versions. There are several locations world-wide and the online store is the only place to find “Retro Lush” items (previously discontinued products). Many items are also vegan friendly.

Dear readers,

There is an issue I would like to bring to your attention that will hopefully help to prevent some disappointment from future purchases of certain beauty items.

So, lets say I’m in the market for a new hair dryer. I want salon quality without the price tag but any old drug store dryer just won’t do. The dryer I want is $150, but I see there is a travel size for only $100! Should I:

  1. Pick the travel size because it will save me some money and save space.
  2. Go with the original size.

If you are like most consumers, you probably picked the first option to save a bit of money. The best answer is really 2. By the way, this is just a pretend scenario. I happen to love my Conair from Target.

Most electric “travel size” beauty accessories (i.e. hair dryers, flat irons, styling tools, and skin care items that require an outlet or batteries) are just that- travel size and only for travel. They often have shorter warranties and are not intended for daily use. They will not usually hold up to every day wear and tear and are meant for occasional use, hence why they are for travel.

Think of it this way: If you wash and condition your hair at least five times weekly, little travel sized bottles of shampoo and conditioner would last, at most, only for that one week (maybe longer if you have shorter hair). You would possibly end up spending more on the smaller size items then to just shell out for full size shampoo and conditioner.

It is the same concept for beauty appliances. You might be saving a little money for the moment, but you’ll spending more in the long run, having to purchase a new one when the manufacturer deems the warranty void because it wasn’t used as intended. And, as previously mentioned, the warranties are often much shorter in duration, sometimes by up to a few years.  

If you really do intend to use it occasionally then you will be fine with purchasing the travel size with no problems at all. Just make sure that if you find yourself using it more often to invest in the full size/original size version.

XOXO,

A.

Beauty: Save vs Spend

September 9, 2009

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In an ideal world where money is not an issue, I wouldn’t mind all of my beauty products to be the creme de la creme of their category. In the real world, I am more prone to spending a lot on some items, while others make no sense for me to drop a small fortune on. Here are some of my suggestions on when to shell out the big bucks and when to be thrifty.

Invest in:

  • Quality brushes: Trust me, quality makes all the difference. “Quality” by the way, does not necessarily equal pricy. I have a $15 blending brush by brand A and the same one by brand B that was $25. I like brand A the best and it’s $10 less!
  • Foundation: Go to a counter or beauty store and get matched for color. Some places will even offer you a sample to try first so you can see how it will look on you. If they don’t do samples, see if they will apply it for you so you can see how it looks.
  • Fragrance: Even this little luxury can brighten the gloomiest of days. If you can’t afford the whole bottle a lot of lines now offer less expensive travel sizes or rollerballs for much less. It you love the scent and want the best value, look for gift sets because they offer a lotion (and/or shower gel) along with the fragrance. Tip: Sometimes places like TJ Maxx or Costco will have the same fragrances at a lower price.
  • Skin Care: Spring for acne or anti aging products.
  • Sun protection for your face with both UVA & UVB protection (or broad spectrum).
  • Brow, face, or body waxing: You usually get what you pay for in this category.
  • Clothing staples: Investment pieces that are timeless, high quality, and go with everything.
  • Handbag/Purse: Choose a style that is durable and has structure. Neutral colors are best. Or buy designer at a lower price from stores like TJ Maxx or from websites like Hautelook (membership is required and is free).

Save on:

  • Sun protection for the body: Drug store is just fine. Still look for UVA & UVB protection (or broad spectrum).
  • Lipstick: This age old mood enhancer is very cheap for companies to manufacture. A lot of drug store colors and textures are very similar to higher end lines.
  • Brush Cleaner: Make sure to purchase brush cleaner to protect your investment. Most brush cleaner is fragrance and alcohol, so I say why spend $20 on a bottle when a $10 bottle has the same ingredients?
  • Body lotion: Look for hydrating butters (shea, coco, etc.) and essential oils on the label.
  • Shave gel, lotion, or cream: There isn’t a huge difference in expensive vs cheap.
  • Clothing trends: Why spend $200 on a piece that will be out next year?
  • Handbag/Purses that are trendy: Target usually has a good selection of trendy bags.
  • Manicures (if not getting faux nails): Basic mani’s are done the same way at pricy salons and budget friendly salons.